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The Maine word for chutzpah is Collins

Senator votes against oil use reductions the same day she calls for oil use reductions

The U.S. Senate is a body with many senators who are not always ideologically consistent. Nonetheless, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) set a new standard for “Senatorial Chutzpah” today by announcing her support for Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) big oil bail out bill the very same day she published an article that says on the BP catastrophe that concludes:

… this disaster reaffirms our nation’s need for a national energy policy national energy policy. While oil will remain a significant energy source for many years to come, it is long past time to begin the shift to clean, renewable sources.

Sen. Murkowski’s S. J. Res 26 would block the Environmental Protection Agency from establishing fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for vehicles. The resolution would block efforts to reform our energy policies, and instead maintain the status quo. EPA predicts that if the resolution becomes law, then oil use will increase by nearly one billion barrels from cars and trucks.

This assault on EPA’s authority to enforce the Clean Air Act, as required by the Supreme Court, is strongly supported by over 75 big oil and gas companies and trade associations, including Koch Industries, Valero, and the American Petroleum Institute.

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Sen. Collins announced her support for the big oil bail out bill after the paper industry urged her to support it because of its impact on biomass — an important industry in Maine. Yet EPA will focus its efforts on the largest pollution sources — those that emit more than 75,000 tons of global warming pollution per year. The only requirement for biomass is that it has to measure its pollution emissions.

Despite her support for the big oil bail out bill that would increase oil use, Senator Collins had the audacity to write today that:

We must expand and diversify American energy resources and, in doing so, improve our environment, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and spur the creation of green energy jobs.

Senator Collins is a sponsor of the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal (CLEAR) Act, S. 2877. It would achieve a one percent global warming pollution reduction below 2005 by 2020. The draft American Power Act, in contrast, would achieve a 14 percent pollution reduction.

In 2008, the League of Conservation Voters endorsed Senator Collins for reelection. At the time, she said:

Maine’s future depends on clean air, clean water, and clean energy, and I will continue to work with LCV and forward thinking leaders from both parties to ensure a cleaner future for us all.

The only way to find solution to the most pressing environmental and energy challenges facing our nation is to come together across party and regional lines. I have a proven track record of doing just that.

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Yet today she joins every Republican and only a couple of Democrats to support the big oil bail out bill that maintains status quo energy policies that Senator Collins says that she wants to change. This is hardly “forward thinking” or working across party lines. Perhaps her vote on Senator Murkowski’s big oil bail bill would reflect — rather than contradict — her words if she were up for reelection in 2010.

— By Daniel J. Weiss of CAP’s Energy Opportunity team.